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Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

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Technical sheet - Asclepias
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Asclepias syriaca

common milkweed

This native classic is best known as a food of larval monarch butterflies (along with its cousins A. incarnata and A. tuberosa). Robust, yet beautiful with deep pink clusters of fragrant flowers in June and July followed by lovely pods of silky seeds in October.

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2-4 Feet


1 Feet


12 Inches

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 4-9

common milkweed Interesting Notes

Asclepias syriaca is the plant most people think of when they hear the word “milkweed.” Common milkweed's story is that of resilence in the American landscape. Once primarily considered a noxious weed by farmers throughout the eastern and mid-western US, this perennial (and with other Asclepias species) has become a symoblic and iconic species in habitat restorations.

Asclepias syriaca is a stable and long-lived component of our tall mesic meadow at North Creek. It can be agressive in rich mesic soil, so it may not be the designer's first choice for a small or formal garden. However, we have observed that in restoration and meadow plantings this persistence and tolerance of a variety of soil conditions is absolutely beneficial.

Asclepias syriaca is best known as a food of larval monarch butterflies (along with its cousins A. incarnata and A. tuberosa). However, Monarchs are not the only insects that benefit. According to the US Forest Service, over 450 insects feed on some part of the Asclepias syriaca plant! Like many other Asclepias species,  this milkweed is toxic to mammals and has very bitter leaves. However, this is fantastic if you are trying to design a garden that is deer resistant!

Asclepias syriaca Growing and Maintenance Tips

This milkweed grows best in full sun and average to well-drained soil with no irrigation. Fertilizer will accelerate growth, but is not necessary for optimal performance. It is an excellent component of a native meadow or butterfly garden and will tolerate extreme conditions such as a west facing slope.

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Green Infrastructure
Wetland Indicator Status
Falcutative Upland (FACU)
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
For Animals
Caution: Toxic
Clay Tolerance
Native to North America
Propagation Type
Open pollinated